Consumer Alert


Office Depot caught recommending costly bogus computer repairs

Stationery supply giant Office Depot’s employees have been pushing unnecessary computer repairs on customers.

The channel said that it took in brand-new laptops into Office Depot stores for free PC health checks – the company claims it does about 6,000 of these each week – and were told that the computers were infected with malware. In some instances, employees recommended repairs costing about $180. You can watch CBS’ coverage of the story here.

According to KIRO-TV, this happened not just with laptops they purchased elsewhere, but also with one that was bought at an Office Depot store. Meanwhile, security firm IOActive gave those same machines a clean bill of health.

It’s worrying that an international retail company would indulge in scams like this. Employee Shane Barnett said that he’d warned his bosses against running the misleading program, but was encouraged to go with it so as to meet sales quotas. He also noted that he’d begun complaining about this more than two years ago, and has had his hours cut at the company since then.

In a statement, Office Depot said, “We intend to fully review the assertions and take appropriate action.” Hopefully, it’ll have a remedy for its own internal issues before it misdiagnoses another customer’s computer.
Retailers upselling customers on services they don’t need is nothing new, but a new report claims that some Office Depot employees are falsely claiming computers are infected with viruses in order to meet sales goals.

According to KIRO-TV in Seattle, employees of the office supply retailer allege that pressure to sell protection plans and other services has led store staffers to misdiagnose computers with viruses.

“The PC Health Check doesn’t compute,” the employee says. “If they actually did what they said and cared about customers they wouldn’t have started this program. Customers are unaware they are being taken advantage of.”

To investigate the claims, the station took six computers to various Office Depot stores in Washington and Oregon for PC Health Checks.

There technicians determined that four out of the six computers showed symptoms of malware. To fix the issues, the employees attempted to sell services costing up to $200.

The only problem? The computers were out of the box new. A second test by a unaffiliated computer security firm found no symptoms of malware and no needs for repair.

The employee tells KIRO that workers selling the services are just following corporate mandates.

“It’s not an option to run the program,” he said. “You have to run it on all machines that come in the building.”

To make matters worse, he says, the company posts sales goals and current employee sales in the break room for all to see. This, he claims, creates more aggressive associates to push harder when selling the protection plans for nonexistent programs.

Office Depot tells KIRO that it has opened its own investigation into the claims, noting that it in “no way condones any of the conduct that is alleged” and will “take appropriate action.”   source



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